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College of Applied Human Sciences: School of Sport Sciences

Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology, PhD

The PhD program in Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology at WVU is recognized as one of the premier training programs in the world.

It provides students with a comprehensive curriculum delivered by highly qualified faculty. The program combines academic rigor, extensive research experiences and applied consulting opportunities to train highly competent, well-rounded future sport, exercise and performance psychology professionals.

Students initiate their own line of research, work with faculty to produce publishable manuscripts, and complete three research benchmarks in addition to their dissertation. Furthermore, students take part in supervised applied experiences working within a range of different sport, exercise and performance settings, including Division I, II and III athletic programs.

This PhD program, which includes a concurrent master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, allows individuals to sit for counseling licensure upon graduation. With this combination of research and applied aspects of sport, exercise and performance psychology, the program prepares students for careers as sport psychology consultants, researchers and future faculty members. Students may also apply for a science track with more emphasis on research, which does not include the master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

Many students work 20 hours a week during the semester as a graduate assistant, either teaching, providing service or conducting research. In return for these contributions, graduate assistants receive a tuition waiver and stipend.

Your Degree Plan

Intro

Aerial view of Martin and Woodburn Halls

The PhD program in Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology combines academic rigor, extensive research experiences and applied consulting opportunities to train highly competent, well-rounded sport, exercise and performance psychology professionals.

The program combines academic rigor, extensive research experiences and applied consulting opportunities to train highly competent, well-rounded future sport, exercise and performance psychology professionals. The comprehensive curriculum represents the science-practice model of psychology.

Foundational Courses
Students complete 65-75 credit hours that cover traditional SEP coursework, professional practice courses and research methods. They will have individual plan of studies meetings to finalize their doctoral curriculum with all courses needed to complete the requirements for the SEP doctoral degree.

Dissertation
Throughout the program students select a line of research that coincides with their area of interest. The SEP doctoral degree program culminates with a dissertation research project, exploring an important topic in the field of sport, exercise and performance psychology. The dissertation will be in the form of two or three publishable papers researching the chosen topic, which will be presented in a public forum. The dissertation committee must approve of the dissertation to be fully accepted.

Earn a Dual Degree in Counseling
Once admitted into this program, students can opt to dual enroll in the master's degree program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Courses for these two programs are completed simultaneously. Upon completion students are eligible to sit for licensure as a licensed professional counselor in most states.

Take advantage of special options related to this major:

  • Honors

    Expand your curiosity — and enhance your curriculum — through the WVU Honors College. Two programs are offered: Honors Foundations for first- and second-year students and Honors EXCEL for third- and fourth-year students.

    Explore Honors

The WVU Difference

What sets this program apart from its competitors?

  • 100% of program graduates are employed in the area of their choice.
  • Students teach undergraduate classes in sport, exercise and performance psychology.
  • Students are expected to produce publishable manuscripts.
  • Graduates will be license-eligible and may pursue a counseling or consulting career with full-time applied work.
  • Students consult with NCAA Division I, II and III athletic programs, high school and youth sport teams, exercise/health settings and other performance domains.
  • Admitted students can dual enroll in the MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program and complete both simultaneously.

Learn by Doing

Learning happens outside the classroom. Get involved.

Applied Experiences
Students have the opportunity to gain applied experience working with a range of performers, including student-athletes of Division I, II and III athletic programs. As a result, most students accrue more than 400 hours of supervised service provision allowing them to meet the requirements for AASP certification (CMPC). In addition, the dual enrollment in a master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling allows individuals to sit for counseling licensure upon graduation.

Research
The program boasts seven faculty members trained in sport, exercise and performance psychology. These faculty members have different training backgrounds and research specialties (see faculty profiles) allowing them to supervise students with various research interests. Students will have the opportunity to collaborate with those faculty members and are expected to produce publishable manuscripts. In their research, students are encouraged to identify topics that align with their own interests and will help them reach their professional goals.

Connect with other students who share your academic interests as a member of:

View all of the student organizations you can join.

Graduate Teaching Assistantships

  • Basic Instruction Program (BIP)

Graduate Service Assistantships

  • WVU Student Recreation Center
  • WVU Athletics

Graduate Service/Teaching Assistantships

  • University Advising Center

Attending college will prepare you for many things. The Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology major will give you the following skills:

  • Analytical skills
  • Research skills
Outside of the Evansdale Crossing building.

What you learn outside of the classroom is just as important as what you learn during class. We’ll help you follow your curiosity.

Careers and Outcomes

How does this degree prepare students for a career?

Education Administrators, Postsecondary

Plan, direct or coordinate research, instructional, student administration and services and other educational activities at postsecondary institutions, including universities, colleges and junior and community colleges.

May require a Graduate Degree

Median Salary: $96,910

Possible job titles include: Academic Dean, Dean, Provost, Registrar.

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Clinical and Counseling Psychologists

Assess, diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders of individuals through observation, interview and psychological tests. Help individuals with distress or maladjustment understand their problems through their knowledge of case history, interviews with patients and theory. Provide individual or group counseling services to assist individuals in achieving more effective personal, social, educational and vocational development and adjustment. May design behavior modification programs and consult with medical personnel regarding the best treatment for patients.

Has a Bright Outlook , May require a Graduate Degree

Median Salary: $82,510

Possible job titles include: Clinical Psychologist, Forensic Psychologist, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist, Applied Behavior Science Specialist, Child Psychologist, Clinical Therapist, Counseling Psychologist, Licensed Professional Counselor, Psychotherapist, Pediatric Psychologist.

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Mental Health Counselors

Counsel with emphasis on prevention. Work with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental and emotional health. May help individuals deal with issues associated with addictions and substance abuse; family, parenting and marital problems; stress management; self-esteem; and aging.

Has a Bright Outlook , May require a Graduate Degree

Median Salary: $48,520

Possible job titles include: Clinician, Counselor, Mental Health Counselor, Therapist.

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Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary

Teach courses in psychology, such as child, clinical, and developmental psychology and psychological counseling. Includes both teachers primarily engaged in teaching and those who do a combination of teaching and research.

Has a Bright Outlook , May require a Graduate Degree

Median Salary: $77,860

Possible job titles include: Instructor, Professor, Psychology Instructor, Psychology Professor.

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Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary

Teach courses in health specialties, in fields such as dentistry, laboratory technology, medicine, pharmacy, public health, therapy and veterinary medicine.

Has a Bright Outlook , May require a Graduate Degree

Median Salary: $102,720

Possible job titles include: Assistant Professor, Clinical Professor, Physical Therapy Professor, Professor.

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Where our grads are working

Graduates leave the program with advanced skills in the areas of research, practice and teaching. WVU boasts one of the largest SEP alumni networks in the nation with former students working in most areas of the sport, exercise and performance psychology profession. Alumni take a genuine interest in current students and their future success. Graduates work in a variety of roles which include sport psychology consultants, researchers and faculty members.

Common career areas:

  • Research based faculty positions in sport sciences
  • Teaching based faculty positions in sport sciences
  • Private practice consulting
  • Military consulting
  • Public Health

Example employers and job titles of graduates:

  • Ian Connole, private practitioner, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Peak Performance, Dartmouth College
  • Paul Downey, Associate Athletic Director for Academics, University of Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletics
  • Adrian Ferrera, practitioner with special forces soldiers, Fort Bragg
  • Aaron Goodson, Assistant Director of Counseling and Sport Psychology, Mississippi State University
  • Brandon Harris, Associate Professor, Georgia Southern University
  • Jesse Michel, Head Mental Skills Coordinator, Houston Astros
  • Raymond Prior, private practitioner, Chicago, Illinois
  • Rebecca Zakrajsek, Associate Professor, University of Tennessee

Meet Your Community

The Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology family will inspire and support you.

Admission Requirements

To be eligible for admission into a graduate program at WVU an applicant must submit official, bachelor's degree transcripts from a regionally accredited institution and hold a GPA of at least 2.75. WVU operates decentralized admissions. Decentralized admissions allows each graduate program to set its own application requirements in addition to the University requirements.

  • Applicants can seek admission to the doctoral program in Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology with either a baccalaureate degree or master's degree. To be considered for admission, applicants must upload the following documentation within the graduate application:

    • Résumé or curriculum vitae
    • Transcripts from all previous institutions
    • Official GRE scores
    • Personal statement (1-2 written pages on professional background, goals and reasons for pursuing doctoral degree at WVU, and rationale for potential faculty advisor)
    • Letters of recommendation (2)

    You will not be able to submit your application until the above documents are uploaded. Once the application is submitted and (unofficial/official) transcripts are received, your application will be reviewed for an admission decision. International applicants will not be reviewed with unofficial transcripts. Certain application requirements may be waived on a preliminary review of an application by the program.

    Prospective students should NOT apply to the dual master's program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at this time. If accepted into the PhD program, admission fees will be waived.

    Please contact the Office of Student Success at 304-293-4800 for more information about the application process.

    Additional program admission information

    Admission application form deadline: December 1. Admission is limited to fall start only.

    Applicants are encouraged to submit their application with unofficial transcripts from all previously attended institutions. Submitting unofficial transcripts speeds up the application review process as most graduate programs make admission decisions using unofficial transcripts.

    If you are offered acceptance, you are required to submit official transcripts from all previously attended institutions to be fully admitted into your intended graduate program. You will not be able to register for classes until the official transcripts are received. The preferred method to submit your official transcripts is through a secure online service, such as eScript, The National Clearing House or Parchment, to graduateadmissions@mail.wvu.edu.

    Alternatively, if you are unable to submit an electronic version of your official transcript, the physical, sealed, un-tampered with documents can be mailed to:

    WVU Graduate Admissions, PO Box 6510, Morgantown, WV 26501

    OR

    WVU Graduate Admissions, 1 Waterfront Place, 2nd Floor, Morgantown, WV 26505

    Directions for submitting international official transcripts.

    International applicants must submit proof of English language proficiency.

    Review process

    Following the application deadline, program faculty will evaluate applicant credentials based on the materials submitted. After that initial review, a limited number of applicants will be invited to personal online and/or on-campus interviews with the program faculty and current students prior to a final admission decision.

  • Application Deadlines

    Each graduate program sets their own terms for admission and application deadlines. Applicants can only apply for admission for the terms displayed below. Any questions regarding the application deadline should be directed to the graduate program representative.

    • Fall: December 1

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